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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

VegFest UK, 2014!

On Sunday 28th September I had the pleasure of visiting VegFest UK (at London Olympia) for the first time, with my friend Jill!

It was a very exciting day!

Things on my list to get were: Cream cakes from Big Fat Vegan Bakery, (this was a big sell for me!), a Sea Shepherd hoody, and a vego bar!

I managed to get a Vego bar (or 4...) very quickly, followed by a Sea Shepherd hoody soon after (from my Facebook friend Jenny Dunn who was helping man the Sea Shepherd stall).

I was really impressed with all the street food vendors at the festival, especially the eye catching Tuk Tuk from thai stall "Bang Wok" and the cute yellow van from "Ruperts Street" (who we bought tofu masala curry from).
Other cool stuff on offer was....lots of chocolate stalls, loads of vegan cupcakes and cakes, raw food stalls, lots of coconut products and fresh coconut water, and a fair bit of Caribbean food.

We eventually found The Big Fat Vegan Bakery stall upstairs and it definitely didn't disappoint!  The choice was a bit overwhelming, and I went a bit overboard and ate THREE of their huge cream cakes over the course of the day!

Other purchases I made were 36 nakd  wholefood bars! (love them so much!), a yummy chewy cookie from my friend Kezia at Kizzy's cookies, and a marshmallow box mix and "Round Up" vegan wagon wheel from Vegan Tuck Shop.
I also very nearly bought a soya milk maker, and vegetable spirailiser! (maybe next year!)

Overall I thought VegFest was a great event. It was amazing to see so many animal friendly stalls and people all under one roof, and I can't wait to go back next year!!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Coffee and Walnut Cheese-less entry into Peta's Great VeganBake-off!

*I was thrilled to be a finalist in Peta UK's Great Vegan Bake Off competition, with this recipe, and finished in third place! *


It's always been my favourite dessert, ever since my non-vegan days, scoffing half a Sara Lee!

When I became vegan, cheesecake was one of the first recipes I sought out. The first recipe I followed was from "The Cake Scoffer", and used tofu and a whole tub of ice cream!

These days I like to flick between raw "cheesecakes" made with whole foods such as cashew nuts and  coconut oil, and naughtier cheesecakes made with Tofutti cream cheese.
The recipe I'm sharing falls into the latter category.

Behold...Coffee and walnut cheese-less cake!  

This is my entry into Peta's "Great Vegan Bake-off" competition. 

A "buttery" biscuit base, topped with a sophisticated creamy cappuccino cream cheese topping (which is lightened up slightly by subbing some cream cheese for silken tofu).

I have to stop for a moment to credit my dad for the flavour combination of this cheesecake, as it was his request!

Ingredients notes:

-The "cream cheese" I use is Tofutti Creamy Smooth, which can be bought from most health food shops, or online from Goodness Direct.
-The egg replacer powder I use is Ener-g; others may work, as may cornflour (cornstarch), but I haven't tried!
-For this recipe you need vacuum packed silken tofu (it’s sold near the canned beans in most supermarkets, and is made by a company called “mori-nu”).
-The walnuts are optional, as is the whipped cream (but I think it makes it extra special!)
-I used a carton of Soyatoo whipping cream, (available here) but you could also make your own whipped coconut cream (instructions follow).


Makes one 9" cake.  You can half the recipe to make a 6" or 7" cake.

You will need:
  • Food processor
  • 9" spring form pan

For the base
  • 400g vegan digestive biscuits
  • 200g vegan margarine
For the cream cheese topping
  • 2 packs Tofutti creamy smooth
  • 1 carton Mori-nu silken tofu (firm)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 and half teaspoons Ener-g egg replacer powder
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 3-4 tablespoons espresso powder 
  • 225g sugar
  • Another 1 tablespoon plus 1 and half teaspoons egg replacer powder
  • Another 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional extras:
  • 100g walnut halves
  • Carton soyatoo whipped cream (refrigerated) or
  • Coconut whipped cream, made using 1 can coconut milk, refrigerated, or 1 carton coconut cream refrigerated plus 2-3 tablespoons icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 175 C. Place a dish of boiling water on the bottom of the oven (the extra humidity helps stop cracks forming on the cheesecake.)

2. Line a 9" spring firm pan with baking paper (and ideally wrap the tin in brown paper, too).

3. To make the base... smash the digestive biscuits into crumbs with a rolling pin (or use a food processor). 
Melt margarine in a saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave. Add biscuit crumbs and stir well.
Tip the mixture into the base of the cake pan, and press in using either the bottom of a glass or the end of a rolling pin. Refrigerate until needed. 

4. To make the topping.
In a small bowl whisk the first batch of egg replacer powder with 6 tablespoons of water. (Preferably using a handheld electric mixer).  Add 3-4 tablespoons espresso powder, (depending on how strong you'd like the coffee flavour). Beat until the mixture is frothy.

3. Drain the tofu and add to a food processor along with the cream cheese, sugar and egg replacer mixture.
Blend until the mixture is smooth, stopping the blender now and then to scrape down the sides with a spatula (to make sure all the cream cheese gets blended in).

4. Whisk second lot of egg replacer with water as before and add to food processor along with the vanilla extract. Blend again until smooth and creamy.

5. Pour mixture over the biscuit base, and smooth it out with a spatula.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the cheesecake looks “almost set”, but the middle is still a little wobbly!
Turn the oven off, and leave the cake in the oven for an extra 10 minutes. 

6. Remove tin from oven, and place on a cooling rack.  Once the tin is cool (may take an hour or so!) place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.

For the creamy soyatoo topping:

-Whip the Soyatoo cream at full speed for 2 mins, then refrigerate for at least an hour before piping onto your cake.

For coconut whipped cream:
Remove can of coconut milk from the refrigerator. The creamy part of the milk will have separated and turned solid in the can. Carefully scoop this out of the can and into a bowl. (or use entire contents of a carton of coconut cream).
Add icing sugar and beat with a hand blender for 2 or 3 minutes until thick and creamy.
Refrigerate for at least an hour, before piping onto your cake.

7.  Once cheesecake has been refrigerated for at least 4 hours, remove from tin, and pipe on the whipped cream (if using).  Add optional walnut halves.

8. Take lots of photos of your masterpiece!  
(if you're a fellow Instagrammer, tag me @psitsvegan!)


Friday, 15 August 2014

Unofficial review of Vegan Life Magazine! Plus WIN a year's subscription!

Today I had the pleasure of making celebratory treats (of cupcakes and cheescake!) for the team at Vegan Life Magazine, as they celebrated the printing of Issue 1 of their magazine.


Vegan Life is the first fully vegan magazine to be sold in mainstream shops in the UK.
(also, it's head quarters are based in the same town as me, which means the Vegan Life team are fast becoming very good customers!)

Publishing Director Emily dropped off a few copies of Issue 1 to me today, and my first impressions were what a nicely presented magazine it is.

I'm a sucker for nice paper feel, and Vegan Life is thankfully not just "another glossy mag", rather it is printed on good quality paper with a classy matte finish.

Flicking through, the articles that caught my eye most were "Vegan News" (which gave snippets of vegan news stories, as you might expect!), the recipe pages, and a few of the special features.

In particular the heartwarming and emotional story of "The M62 Hen Rescue", which tells of how partners Louise Fields and Emma Billington rescued thousands of chickens destined for slaughter from a motorway crash which happened right outside their home (and how they have since set up the campaign page "Justice for Hens").

Also, as ever I was pleased to see my friend (and vegan super athlete!) Fiona Oakes getting recognition, and  recounting her amazing running and animal rescue achievements.

It was interesting to also read a piece about Donald Watson, who founded the vegan movement in 1944.

Other features in the mag included new vegan products, a debate on whether it's ever ok to eat eggs from your own hens, and also (I'm proud to say)! In an article about my cake business, and how I helped organise Colchester's First Vegan Fair.  


I also provided a recipe for one of my favourite crumble cheesecake! 

Overall I would say that Vegan Life Magazine will be really useful to people wanting to learn more about vegan issues and the vegan lifestyle, especially those just starting out. 
It will be great to see it have a physical presence on supermarket shelves, and will hopefully draw in a new crowd of curious would-be vegans.

I'm running a competition to give away a year's subscription (6 issues) of Vegan Life, worth £14.50 (special offer price). This prize also includes the free gift of £14.65 worth of Veganicity vitamin products.

You can enter using my Rafflecopter  app below .. (Good luck!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you are unlucky in the competition you can subscribe at the Vegan Life Website here:

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Wheat free test kitchen!

I have always been a huge lover of wheat, especially in deliciously soft bread and light and fluffy cakes!

But every so often I think I am eating too much, so decide to give it up/cut down for a spell.

A handy side effect of this is it forces me to experiment more with wheat free baking! (something I've always neglected.)

I decided to trial 3 gluten free recipes (two cookies, and a chocolate cupcake).

For the first batch of cookies I followed a Chocolate Covered Katie recipe here, using oat flour (which I made by blending oats).

The result was a soft oaty cookie, which was quite tasty!  One of my taste testers (Lee) said it was kind of like a hobnob!

For the second batch of cookies I wanted to try something a little different...chickpea cookies!
This is something I've seen on Pinterest a few times, and I've always been curious to try. I was reminded of them by a photo of chocolate chip chickpea muffins on Instagram (on Chocolate Covered Katie's account).
I couldn't find a cookie recipe I liked, so I adapted CCK's recipe to make cookies (by omitting the baking powder and cooking on a cookie tray!) 

I was really pleased with these cookies. They use apple sauce in place of some of the oil, and they feel like a protein packed snack when you eat them.
I gave them to a couple of people to try, and neither could guess they contained chickpeas!
They were quite soft, almost "cakey" cookies, but that didn't spoil my enjoyment of them :)
(I even dipped one in my yogurt!)

Next was the cupcakes.
I've tried making gluten free cupcakes before, and have never been overly impressed with the results.

This time I thought I'd try a recipe from Ms Cupcake:The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town.
The recipe was actually for a cake rather than cupcakes, but I halved it and made into 12 cupcakes.
(my reason for not just trying one of her gluten free cupcake recipes was I didn't have any xantham gum which was called for in most of those recipes.)

I was happier with these cupcakes than I have been with my other attempts, but my taste testers had mixed views.  Two of my friends who love chocolate cake thought they were great, but my friend Carol (the harshest cake critic!) thought they were very dry.

They're definitely drier than my usual cupcakes.  More springy" and less "crumby". I think baking without eggs AND without dairy AND without wheat is always going to be a challenge.
I wonder if you have to be a true gluten free vegan to fully appreciate these kind of cakes!

I'm sharing the recipe for the chickpea cookies (with kind permission from Chocolate Covered Katie). If you make them be sure to see if people can guess the secret ingredient!

1/2 cup oats 
400g can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed 
2 tbsp apple sauce
1 and 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil 
1/2 tablespoon vanilla 
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3-1/2 cup chocolate chips 
1/4 cup walnuts pieces (optional)

Preheat oven to 350f (175C), and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Whizz the oats in a blender until they're pretty much powder.

Add the chickpeas and blend again until they've purée'ed down.

Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. 

Dollop the cookie dough evenly onto the baking tray.
Distribute the chocolate chips evenly amongst the cookies by pressing them into the tops. Add walnut pieces if using.

Bake until the cookies no longer look wet, about 10-13 mins. (check regularly for doneness!)
Once out of the oven leave on the cookie tray for 5 minutes (to help them firm up), then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Date and Pecan things!

Raw bites, Sugar Free and Wheat free Cookies and  Pecan Crumble Muffins!

 I love the combination of dates and pecans! Especially if they are lovely soft, squishy dates!

Here are some things I have done with them recently...

Date and Pecan bites
1,The simplest kind...put pecan inside date. Eat! (yum!)

2, Slightly more effort-blend dates and pecans, roll into balls, and coat in chopped pecans!

Raw date and pecan bites

Soft date and oat breakfast cookies. No added sugar, no wheat, no added fat, no soya!

150g soft dates such as medjool or deglet
50g of pecans, plus a few extra.
100g apple sauce
50g oat flour (made by grinding oats in a blender)
40g whole oats

Preheat oven to 175 C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Blend 50g oats to flour.  Set aside.
Blend dates, add pecan nuts and blend again until fairly smooth. Add apple sauce and oat flour and blend again.
Tip mixture out into a bowl, and stir in oats and a few extra chopped pecans.
Form into 12 blobs and flatten slightly.
Bake for 8 mins. Leave to cool on the tray for 5 mins, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool fully.
Keep in an airtight container and eat within 2 days.

Soft date and pecan vegan cookies

Date and Pecan cake or muffins

-To make as a sponge bake in a lined 8" tin at 180 C for 30 minutes.
-To make as muffins bake at 175 C for 15-20 minutes.

  • Sponge 
  • 1 cup soya or almond milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup plain flour
  • 1/3 cup wholemeal plain flour (or more plain flour).
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup muscovado sugar (or more granulated sugar).
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
200g dates
1/4 cup water

  • 1/2 cup plain flour 
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal flour (or more plain flour )
  • 1/4 cup soft brown sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup oil  or melted margarine

If making a cake either grease the tin or line with baking paper.  If making muffins put muffin cases in the baking tray.

Chop dates and cook in a saucepan with 1/4 cup of water for 10 mins or so, stirring often until the dates are softened slightly.

Preheat oven to 175C-180C.

To make the crumble, mix all of the crumble ingredients with your finger tips, until the mixture is..well, crumbly. If the mixture is too wet add a little extra flour. 

To make the cake..

Sift flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt into a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl whisk vinegar into the soya milk. Whisk in oil and sugars. (make sure sugars are well mixed, and that no lumps of brown sugar remain).

Make a well in the bowl of flour, and add milk mixture.  Stir with a spoon or spatula until no dry flour remains.  (But be careful to not over-mix.)

Spoon the mixture into cake tin or muffin tray.

Spoon cooked dates evenly over the cake mixture. Sprinkle on the crumble mixture.

-Bake muffins for 15 mins and test with a toothpick. If the middle is still gooey set a timer for 2 more minutes and check again, then at further 2 minute intervals if needed until they are cooked. Once done remove from tray and cool on a cooling rack.

-If making a cake, bake for 30 minutes, and test with a toothpick. If the middle is still gooey set a timer for 5 more minutes and check again, then at further 5 minute intervals if needed until the cake is cooked. 

Delicious served warm with ice cream!

Date and pecan vegan muffins

Date and pecan vegan muffins

Date and Pecan Cake Vegan

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Home made instant porridge-just add water!

I've noticed a few "instant porridge" products popping up on the market lately
They seem to be aimed at office workers or campers, or anyone who doesn't have access to facilities to transport and heat milk, or the time to make real porridge.

At £2 a pot they make for quite a pricey breakfast!

Looking at the ingredients they seem simple enough to replicate-Oats, milk powder and sugar.
So to make our vegan version we can just sub the milk powder for soya milk powder, and voila! -instant (vegan) porridge! Just add boiling water!

Much cheaper than the store bought (non-vegan) kind, and easy enough to carry in a little tub, or a zip lock bag. (It can then be mixed with boiling water in a bowl or mug.)

I had a go at making a batch to see how it would turn out...

I ground the oats in a blender first, to make them finer, then added soya milk powder and sugar.
I forget the exact measurements but I think it was something like half a cup of ground oats, one tablespoon of soya milk powder, and one tablespoon of sugar (which in hindsight was probably a bit much!), and then added enough boiling water to make a nice porridgey consistency.

-Obvious additions to the porridge could be: cinnamon, raisins or other dried fruit.  I've even seen some shop bought kinds with coconut in!

If I am ever in the unfortunate situation where I can't make a saucepan of porridge with bottled soya milk, this is what I will turn to!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Tips for eating less animals, more plants!

So you'd like to eat less animals and more plants-that's great! Maybe you'd like to go full veggie or vegan-that's even better!

I'm not really going to go into the whys, because chances are if you’re considering vegetarianism/ veganism you've heard all that already..!

But here are some tips that I hope might help you on your way!

Tip 1:Do it your way!

It’s up to you whether you want to make a clean break and go vegan overnight or if you’d prefer to gradually cut out animal products a bit at a time.  No one is judging your performance or time-scale!  This is your choice and your journey, so do it your way!! The fact that you are trying to make a difference at all is a great thing! 
(It's also up to you what kind of veggie/vegan you may want to be.  Want to make everything from scratch using the freshest ingredients possible?! That's great! But prefer to stick cooking something out of a jar or packet?! Ok-you're an adult-do what you like!)

Tip 2:Start off with what you know...

If you’re the kind of person who’s used to sausage, chips and beans for dinner then that recipe for tofu and quinoa salad may not sound too appealing!
You may find it easiest to stick with familiar meals to begin with.  ie, swap your meat/vegetarian sausages for some veggie ones such as Linda McCartney (easy to find in supermarkets), swap mince for veggie mince and so on..
There’ll be plenty of time to try new and  more unfamiliar foods as you go along!

Tip 3:..But don't be scared to try new things! 

Once you've mastered all your old favourite meals, expand your horizons to try new and exciting foods!  Rather than restricting your diet you may find you end up expanding it!
The internet is full of vegan recipe websites and blogs, and Amazon is a good place to find lots of cookbooks. (see below for recommended websites and books). 
Maybe you could try and commit to trying one new food or recipe a week?

Tip 4: Be prepared!

Plan ahead and keep a well stocked  kitchen so that you can always have dinner ready in a flash! (See below for tips on stocking a vegan kitchen).
Similarly when out and about plan where you can pick up something to eat, or take food with you.

Tip 5: Prepare to be weaned!

Some people are put off from the start by the thought of drinking any milk apart from cows milk.

(but seriously, what could be weirder than still drinking breast milk into adulthood?! You don't still drink your own mother's milk (I hope!), so why drink milk from someone else's mother?!-a different species mother at that!)

I think it's best to just jump in and a few different plant based milks and see how you get on. Alpro is usually quite a popular UK brand; they make lots of non dairy milks, including soya, hazelnut, rice and almond.  Some are found in the fridge, whilst others are in the long-life section with the UHT dairy milk. Try a few and see which one suits you!  It’s also easy to find non-dairy custard, yogurts, cream and ice cream  You can even get vegan cheese!
If you are worried about calcium or any other vitamins and minerals, then there is helpful info about plant based sources on the Vegan Society website.

Tip 6: Connect!

The internet is swimming with lovely veggies and vegans, most of whom are very supportive and love to chat about food and all manner of related things.   It is nice to know you are not alone!

If you are on Facebook you might like to follow some pages or join some groups, where you can ask questions about things you’re not sure of, and get support and advice. (see links below for group and page suggestions).

If you are on Instagram then search for hash tags like #veganfoodshare to see lots of yummy photos of vegan food.  
Pinterest also has lots of inspiring food photos to get your imagination going!

Tip 7: Don’t be put off by the vegan police!!

Vegans are passionate people and so sometimes have disagreements! Sometimes arguments arise between vegans about whether each other's food choices are ethical enough or healthy enough.Try not to be put off by those arguments!  Remember-this is your journey.  We are all just trying to do our best in a non-vegan world.  Live by your own values and make your own choices. (You’re taking more positive action than most people ever will, so be proud of that.)  As a friend of mine says “vegans should unite, not fight!”

Tip 8: Don't beat yourself up!

If you fall off of the veggie wagon now and then to begin with, don’t be too hard on yourself.  Just remember your reasons for wanting to go veggie or vegan (whether it's to boycott animal abuse or to improve your health).  It might take a little while, but put any mistakes behind you, look forward and  you'll get there in the end!

Useful links:
      Some of my favourite recipe sites:
      • Post Punk Kitchen: Possibly the most reliable recipes ever, by one of the most popular vegan chefs, Isa Moskowitz  (author of “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World”).
      • Fat free vegan: Delicious reliable recipes, mostly with a reduced fat content
      • Mouthwatering vegan: Gourmet style recipes, with tempting photos.
      • Vegweb-over 15,000 recipes, for every kind of food you can imagine! Recipes are uploaded and rated by members.
      • Maple Spice:Extensive directory of sweet and savoury recipes, by a Canadian blogger now living in Ireland.
      • Parsley soup: User friendly recipes with UK measurements and ingredients
      • Really useful vegan baking community.
      Suggested reading

      Cook books:

      By Ms Cupcake (UK measurements):
      By Isa Moskowitz (US measurements):
      By Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (UK and US Measurements):
      Tips for stocking your vegan kitchen can be found here:
      Useful guides
      Vegan Philosophy
      Of course there are many more excellent books available!  Have a nose through Amazon and read some reviews :)
      Suggested vegan Facebook groups and pages:
      • What Fat Vegans Eat (open group) A group for vegans worldwide to share pictures of their dinners! (not a group for discussions).
      • Vegan Finds UK (closed group) A group set up with the intention of sharing vegan finds.  A generally friendly, non-judgemental group (with smutty innuendo often thrown in for good measure!).
      • Suitable for vegans off topic chat- (closed group) A group for general vegan chit chat.
      • The Vegan Society (Page) Official page of The Vegan Society (UK)-followed by over 140,000 vegans worldwide!
      • Evolve!Campaigns-(Page) UK campaign group that regularly shares inspiring stories, recipes, news and more.
      • Compassionate Cooks (Page) The facebook page of US cookbook author Colleen Patrick Goudreau. Thoughtful insights on vegan diplomacy and how to promote veganism in a positive way.
      • VegNews magazine(Page) Recipes and articles on Veganism (US).
      • Post Punk Kitchen (Page) Facebook page of US vegan cookbook author Isa Moskowitz. Recipes, videos and cooking tips.
      • One Green Planet (Page) Tips on living a greener life! Recipes, news and articles.
      • The Vegan Womble- (Page) A UK vegan giving helpful hints on new products and vegan options in various supermarkets.
      • Veganoo (Page) Reviews of vegan products in the UK.

      Tips for eating out:
      Vegan web stores:
      Recommended shops to find vegan things when out and about (in the UK):
      • Holland and Barrett-for vitamins, sandwich fillings, “sausages”, “burgers” etc, yogurts, icecream, snack bars, non dairy milk.
      • Independent health food shops-as above, as well as toiletries etc.
      • Lush-toilettries, labelled vegan where applicable
      • Superdrug-own brand products are BUAV approved and state whether suitable for vegans (including their own brand make up "B".)
      • Co op –own brand cleaning products/toiletries are BUAV approved and advise whether they contain animal products. Also-vegan doughnuts!!
      Good luck on your journey!   If you ever have any questions or would like any advice I am happy to try and help.  (Comment here or on my Facebook page).